Browse > Home /

| Subcribe via RSS

Is it worth putting a tenner on @NormanLamb to win?

By Angela Harbutt
July 2nd, 2015 at 1:55 pm | 4 Comments | Posted in Leadership, Liberal Democrats

With the Lib Dem leadership contest into the last couple of weeks, and with ballot papers now sitting with the Lib Dem voters, how are the two candidates shaping up?

Rather than look at the candidates websites, their promises and “liberal vision” (yes they both have one), now seems a good time to see who is endorsing them. Having big grand ideas is all well and good – but what also counts in a leadership race is the respect that colleagues have for prospective leaders. Those working alongside Norman and Tim will have a much better working knowledge of their strengths and weaknesses than the average voter can ever hope to determine by a search of their websites or tv clips of the odd hustings.

Besides, (being totally honest) I am just darned curious to see how it is stacking up.

Getting the comprehensive list was not easy. Norman’s and Tim’s websites do a pretty good job of listing their supporters – but both list their supporters in a bit of a randomised way. And Wiki, whilst pretty good, seems to have a few missed off the list.

Having completed the task as best I could, I thought I would share, in case (a) anyone else is interested and (b) anyone can correct any of the entries.

FORMER MPs declaring for either Norman or Tim.  

Former MPs = recent MPs (those who stood in 2015)

Norman Lamb Tim Farron
Ming Campbell Simon Hughes
Ed Davey Alan Beith
Stephen Williams Duncan Hames
Don Foster John Leech
Norman Baker Greg Mulholland
Tom Brake John Pugh
Paul Burstow Sarah Teather
Bob Russell Mark Williams
David Laws Jo Swinson
Simon Wright
Stephen Gilbert
David Heath
John Hemming
Michael Moore
Nick Harvey
Julian Huppert
Tessa Munt
Mark Hunter
Jenny Willott
Mike Thornton
Lynne Featherstone


Interesting to note that Norman’s list is substantially longer, though Tim has three of the six current MPs. Norman has one. Nick Clegg and Alistair Carmichael appear not to have declared for either.

There is also a long list of notable ex-MPs (including Danny Alexander, Vince Cable,and Jeremy Browne) who appear to have not indicated a preference either way.

Sandra Gidley and Julia Goldsworthy (MPs from further back) have also declared for Norman.


Norman Lamb Tim Farron
Paddy Ashdown David Steel
Shirley Williams Meral Hussein-Ece
Tim Razzell Diana Maddock
Kate Parminter Brian Paddick
Judith Jolly Ros Scott
Joan Walmsley Floella Benjamin
Liz Barker Alexander Charles Carlile
Lindsay Northover Brian Cotter
Dee Doocey Kenneth Macdonald
Alison Suttie Monroe Palmer
Paul Sciven James Palumbo
Sue Garden Paul Strasburger
Jane Bonham Carter Matthew Taylor
Kishwer Falkner
Susan Kramer
Dominic Addington
Sally Hamwee
Olly Grender
Phil Willis
Paul Tyler


Once again it is Norman that scoops up not only more of the Lords, but a much more impressive list. Having Shirley Williams and Paddy Ashdown on your side must be pretty useful! So useful in fact that I wondered at first why Norman does not seem to have featured Paddy in any of his literature.

The answer seems to be that ballot papers (with the latest literature from both candidates) went out on 24th June. It appears that Paddy Ashdown only declared his support for Norman (via twitter to his 19,000 followers) on that day (24th June).

paddy tweet

If this is the case, Norman must be spitting feathers that he could not get that all-important endorsement into the leaflet accompanying the ballot paper. Will that have cost Norman the leadership?

There are some other notable names on the list declaring for one or other candidate. Sarah Ludford, Andrew Duff (ex MEPs) support Norman. Fiona Hall (ex MEP) and Catherine Bearder (Lib Dems only current MEP) break for Tim. Also worthy of note is Willie Rennie (Leader of the Scottish Lib Dems) declaration for Tim.


dappy N-DubzFrank BrunoThe prize for best supporter(s) has to go to Norman however. No. Not Shirley or Paddy. Norman has captured some heavy weight support from outside of politics. Frank Bruno has clearly been knocked out by Norman’s work on mental health and N-Dubz star “Dappy” has taken to twitter to show his support for Norman too. With some 875,000 followers on twitter, Dappy’s support has got go someway to getting the vote out (assuming at least some of his followers are Lib Dems of course !). If nothing else it shows that Norman has the ability to excite people from outside of politics to get involved- no bad thing for a party that is going to struggle to get its voice heard on traditional news media in the coming years.

The bookies odds have Tim Farron as the clear favourite to become the next leader of the Lib Dems. But as we have seen in previous Lib Dem leadership elections, the betting market is pretty illiquid. It doesn’t take much cash to skew the odds in favour of one or other candidate, intentionally or not, out of all recognition. And it is worth noting that traditionally the activists have always made more noise during leadership elections – putting their poster boy into the lead on the betting markets – but it is the centrist candidate that the wider membership end up voting for.

Of course, this election may be different. The “Lib Dem membership surge” in recent weeks, may be comprised primarily of the disillusioned (who quit when the liberals went into power with the Conservatives) coming home. But that is mere speculation and even if partially true, not all will be of the left-leaning variety. And not all of those will vote for the sometimes gaff-prone Tim. And let’s not forget those who stuck with the Lib Dems throughout the past five years. Everyone agrees that Norman had a pretty good time of it in Government, winning respect from fellow politicians of all colours.

Given Norman’s impressive supporters list (including the somewhat late arrival of Paddy Ashdown), in a two horse race, I wonder whether the value bet is Norman. Long odds of course, but worth a tenner perhaps?

[Please do let me know, via the comments section, of any additions/omissions/errors in the above lists and I will correct.]

Tags: , , , , , ,

Lib Dem Leadership – surely it’s sorted?

By Angela Harbutt
May 10th, 2015 at 11:01 am | Comments Off on Lib Dem Leadership – surely it’s sorted? | Posted in Leadership, Liberal Democrats, Uncategorized

So the discussions on who might be the next Lib Dem leader have already begun. Tim Farron has not ruled himself out, whilst Greg Mulholland has apparently. Not sure about Norman Lamb, but the bookies think he is in with a shout. Mind you, given the numbers, they probably all are (in with a shout that is).

Lib Dem Party President, Sal Brinton, has already written to all Lib Dem members (Friday) telling them that “The Federal Executive meets for the first time tomorrow afternoon to consider the timescales” for the leadership election.

Just to be clear, 28 or so Lib Dems will have sat down in a room somewhere yesterday to work out the “leadership election” process. This may sound ridiculous to outsiders (for crying out loud there are only 7 MPs in the running!) but not to those, like the usually sane Lib Dem Mark Pack, who think this is deadly serious. He has already called for  a “properly contested leadership contest, not a coronation“.

Why? Because “A contest triggers debate and a chance of collectively learning the lessons“. Hmmm…. what the Lib Dems need is yet another post-mortem on why it all went wrong. I don’t think so.

It really doesn’t appear to occur to any of them that this constant navel-gazing which is sending them backwards, not forwards. What did the Lib Dems learn from the lame 2010 GE campaign, the 2011 AV campaign, the (several) Rennard inquiries; the 2014 European elections; the various local council elections? Nothing it would seem, given that the 2015 General Election campaign was every bit as bad as the ludicrous “Yes to Fairer Votes” campaign.

[The truth of the matter is that the Lib Dems never learn, collectively or otherwise, the lessons of any particular failure because they don’t really want to hear the answer – but more of that later today]

Returning to the Leadership Election….

If the remaining eight MPs (assuming they all stay Lib Dems) had anything about them they would dispense with the now meaningless Lib Dem rule book  (which states that any leadership candidate needs 10% of MPs to back them (!) plus the backing of at least 200 party members from at least 20 different local parties). They would  have sat down already and agreed amongst themselves who it will be –  and announced it.

The leader, with the total support of all 8 MPs, would also then tell the 28 person Federal Executive, the 29 person Federal Policy Committee, the 20+ person Federal Conference committee and any other committee found occasionally lurking in the bowels of Lib Dem HQ that in swift order all the current policies/rules books/committees etc will all be put under immediate review with a view to (a) disbanding or (b) drastic pruning. If the Federal party want a conference they can have one, but it won’t be where policy is made. Policy will be made by the 8 accountable MPs, on a system of their own devising, and, in the interests of democracy, put to the membership on a “one member one vote” basis annually. In the Autumn of 2015 the first set of proposals will be put to the membership (on the “one member on vote” system) and include a question on satisfaction with the leader. The rest the leader will sort as he goes on.

I am sure this suggestion will make many Lib Dem’s toes curl at the very idea of by-passing the FE , and making the Federal Policy Committee all but redundant, but surely their time and effort can be redeployed rebuilding the membership of the party. What the remaining Lib Dem MPs – and indeed the wider party membership – surely don’t need is 10 or so committee members for every one MP?

Please someone tell me commonsense will, finally, prevail.


Tags: , , ,

Norman Lamb: Doh!

By Angela Harbutt


Only a short while ago Norman Lamb MP was one of our best. He stood up, and spoke out, on principle against needless government intrusion. A true poster boy for all those liberals amongst us who object to the nanny state telling adults how to live our lives.

Back in 2008, when the the Labour government suggested hiding cigarettes behind shutters in shops, Norman was one of the first to speak out. As Shadow Health Minister he rightly stated :

“This is the nanny state going too far.”

And he didn’t stop there. He also said

“This will hit small businesses with added costs while there is no clear evidence that it will actually reduce the number of young people smoking.”

And indeed he said this:

“The Government is obsessed with headline-grabbing gimmicks instead of tackling the real problems. Buying tobacco for children must be made a criminal offence. Ministers also need to clamp down on the shockingly high amount of tobacco that is smuggled illegally into this country.”

Where is that man we wonder? Roll on to 2013 and, when in a position to actually have an impact on the excesses of the nanny state, low and behold he pops up in the Guardian saying:

“As a liberal I would always defend someone’s right to smoke, if that’s what they choose to do. But, given we’re dealing here with a product that kills between 80,000 and 100,000 people a year, I think it’s legitimate for government to seek to control the marketing of that deadly product…”


Well, Norman, nothing has changed since 2008. Cigarettes are bad for you. Sure. But no more than they were in 2008, when you were against the display ban. Adults should be treated as adults – even when you are in power.

If ever there was a policy that was nothing more than a “headline-grabbing gimmick” (your words), banning coloured boxes must surely be it? What happened to your concern about the impact of policy gimmicks on small businesses? And why choose this point to ignore the 500,000 voters who registered their opposition to this policy during the consultation? Back in 2008 your concern was rightly focused on the black-market and proxy purchasing. Why, when in power, choose to support a policy that will make it actually easier and cheaper for organised crime to counterfeit cigarettes? You were against the tobacco display ban – but it was introduced anyway – why not at least wait to measure the effectiveness of that policy (and the ban on tobacco vending machines) before arguing for yet more legislation?

Picture courtesy of "Hands Off Our Packs"

Picture courtesy of “Hands Off Our Packs”

You say that:

“I think it would be a legacy for this government to have legislated on something which would be a landmark public health reform and to be out there in front in Europe.”

Great. If that’s the case [or indeed if it is, as it seems, just the usual politician’s desire to be “seen” to be doing something]  here are a few policies that may assist you in leaving a health legacy you can actually be proud of.


1. Clear the path for e-cigarettes. This revolution is leaving you behind. Hundreds of thousands are electing to choose this product – yet you waste your time on ruling what colour of boxes you think adults should look at – a campaign gimmick that is untried, untested and unwanted. If you want to be “out there in front of Europe” then let’s get as many e-cigarettes out there as possible. If you hadn’t noticed – they are working – unlike the tired, unimaginative and dangerous “more of the same” policies coming from those in tobacco control. Note that Chris Davies [Libdem] MEP seems to be way ahead of you [see “Politics at it should be done“]

2. Introduce a ban on proxy purchasing (your idea from 2008). Smoking is an adult pursuit. If your concern is children, then make it illegal to purchase cigarettes on behalf of minors.

3. And while you are at it, increase the penalties on those caught selling cigarettes to kids.

4. Act on counterfeiting. Fake cigarettes sell at half the price of UK duty paid cigarettes. Quite attractive to cash strapped youngsters don’t you think? They are sold to minors at school gates, car book sales and markets. They don’t ask for ID, and they don’t care who they sell to. Why not introduce some serious penalties for smuggling and counterfeiting?

That is just four for starters – and they really do start to look like a liberal legacy we can all be proud of.

PS: With great relief we note that education minister, David Laws, and the Home Office minister, Jeremy Browne are reported to remain firmly against this policy.

Seen elsewhere on this topic: “Norman Lamb:Perfect Example of the Genre” and “Open Minded?

Angela Harbutt is currently campaigning against the introduction of plain packaging of tobacco.

Tags: , , ,

Lesson 101. THIS is how you make an apology

By Angela Harbutt
September 21st, 2012 at 10:00 am | Comments Off on Lesson 101. THIS is how you make an apology | Posted in Liberal Democrats

Dear Nick

This is how to make an apology :

Stephen Nolan interview with Norman Lamb 24th October 2010. You see ? Timely, honest and clear.

Stephen Nolan: “You must be very embarrassed by the promise you gave to every single person Norman”

Norman Lamb:  “I am embarrassed by that pledge and I wish that I had not signed it …I take this very seriously. I hate the situation that I am personally am in. I find it a genuine moral dilemma. I want to try and do the right thing…”

“… And look everyone of us , in politics or any other walk of life , make mistakes. I have made a mistake on this and I’m very open and candid about it . I want people to be able to trust what I do and what I say. But in the circumstances I am in, I’ve got to try and make the right decision…”

“…Looking to the future ensuring that universities get proper funding  and that we don’t disadvantage children from poorer backgrounds it seems to me that what is on offer if it can be improved in a more progressive direction is worth supporting”

“I am sorry. I am sorry I signed it. It is as simple as that. Perhaps politicians should say that more often. I am saying it very openly to you”

Job done.

 You can listen to the full 4 minute interview here.

Tags: , , ,

What do we want “LAWS”.. When do we want him “NOW”

By Angela Harbutt
February 4th, 2012 at 9:52 pm | 11 Comments | Posted in Liberal Democrats

Lib Dems overwhelming want David Laws back in the mix – big time. A Lib Dem Voice survey of members , released today, suggests that an overwhelming  72% of Lib Dem members in the LDV sample want to see David Laws return to a ministerial post in the Coalition government, with most wanting to see him return to the cabinet.

There are some Lib Dems who think that he is better placed to stay behind the scenes and mastermind the next election strategy. I have some sympathy with that. We do need someone who knows what they are doing, this time around, running that. But what we need, just  as importantly right now, is to be able to show we are competent in government.With ideas that work and a positive message for what we can achieve rather than prevent. Getting Ed Davey (who has been phenomenal in  Business)  into the Climate job and  Norman Lamb (who has spent too much time behind the scenes) to take up Ed’s post are both excellent moves. But if there was the chance of adding David Laws to the line up who wouldn’t think that was a pretty impressive team to field in the all-important run up to the next general election.

If David Cameron is serious about this partnership – and if Nick Clegg really does have the balls to do what’s necessary – then it surely can’t be long before David Laws is off the subs bench and back in the game?

UPDATE – Sunday Telegraph reporting that Laws may be in for a big job… GET IN.

Tags: , , , ,